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Black Beauty Makes the Journey Home, East Bound and Down


We just discussed route planning in the previous post, which leads us to my mom and brother making their way back across the country. With my favorite scenery in mind and recommendations on the table, we routed a path up the California coast and into Oregon to experience their rugged beauty. From there through the fabulous Willamette National Forest and on to southern Idaho to see the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Up next is the world famous Yellowstone National Park and scenic Highway 212/Beartooth Hwy to Red Lodge Montana. A few more scenic byways over to Mount Rushmore, then aiming for the Michigan Upper Peninsula. After exploring Michigan the southeast route to aim for Virginia to see family, possibly the Outer Banks and on down to Georgia. This road trip could take well over two weeks.

The two week time-frame was not ideal for their needs so we edited the route to eliminate Michigan. The next day I found out that did not fit into their schedule either so we went back to planning. The new route was to drive to Yosemite National Forest and head for I-70 toward Arches National Park and aim for Colorado. Dodge City, Kansas was of interest so a night or two there to sight-see and on through Missouri into Kentucky to stop in at a Museum. Then down toward Alabama and on over to Georgia.

After much deliberation and consideration, a slightly shorter route was pinpointed from Yosemite down to Cottonwood, AZ. From there a more direct path to Dodge City and Paducah Kentucky, Alabama then home. The van conversion was ready and a departure date was set. Reservations were made for the journey home.

The next morning as I walked downstairs to grab a cup of coffee I noticed the road Atlas opened and being examined. Time to change the route. I sat down with my mom and we routed the fastest most direct route back to Claxton Georgia we could find allowing for reservations in parks with electricity hook-ups in order to run the AC. It is July after all and the fastest route is through Texas.

The plan was to depart at about 8am Monday July 5th. That particular plan held firm. The new route also held firm, I-5 south, I-805 south, I-8 east, I-10 east, I-20 east... you get the picture. This video is the first text message I got:

Hmmmmm, I think they are ready to be home. National Parks and Museums will have to wait. I've been telling Mom about Thousand Trails since we became members. There is always a risk when recommending something to someone. I don't recommend things that I have not tried myself. That said, the risk still exists. For example, I love dark chocolate - some folks hate it... I love spicy food - some folks hate it. So recommending my favorite chocolate or spice to someone may not work out for them.

My mom dove right in and bought a Camping Pass from Thousand Trails and we made reservations for her drive home. Here's the first video feedback I got about that:

This location is south east of Tucson, Arizona, an area not know for their lush greenery. So the desert landscape is what you get. After speaking with my brother he let me know the facilities here were clean and well maintained which is exactly what one would hope for. The video shows how roomy the sites are which is also a plus. These travelers gave this place a score of 100.

The first night's stay in a newly converted van can be trying. Patience is a virtue. Everything is new and all the planning in the world can't account for everything. My advice to everyone on the road and booking campgrounds, keep an open-mind and enjoy yourself.

The next reserved stop is in west Texas off I-20. The two words "west Texas" should set an image in your mind and add the month of July and the picture should be complete. Something like this:

Also, this campsite is in Monahans Sandhills State Park - Looks about right to me.

The third night on the road was in East Texas, a little more green and vegetation could be expected here. This particular location is another Thousand Trails campground. The photos of this impressed me, I mean, just look at the shade and trees!

What more could you ask for? What's the score from the campers? 85 out of 100. I call that a win!

Ok for the fourth and final night on the road the destination is Clarkco State Park in Mississippi. Keeping in mind that this is JULY! Mississippi may be another challenge - Thank GOD they have AC on board and reservations have been made to include electricity. They arrived around 5pm and settled into their site. Take a look at this beauty:

Look closer, you'll see Rusty hanging out by the van. He has potential!

The next leg of the trip will get them all the way back home and their comfort zones.

Most van conversions take months to complete, or rather to get road-ready. Most are never complete. There is always something that can be added or taken away on a custom build. I hope this build will bring joy and be a vehicle that provides adventure and new memories to be cherished. Now on to MY next adventure!



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